Oklahoma got a visit from some unseasonably warm weather last weekend. Naturally I took advantage.
I hadn’t had my motorcycle out in a hot minute so I thought Sunday would be good for an afternoon buzz. My plan was to get a few easy photos near some fun photogenic spots around Oklahoma City. There is a seemingly endless list of places, so I chose a few in the downtown area that were all within reasonable distance of one another. These were all visited in the span of an hour or so. If you found yourself running around, maybe looking for some neat photo ops with kiddos, a significant other, a cool car, etc. you could easily knock these out and still have time to catch a nice meal or hit one of the breweries! (Always my top recommendation)
I also decided to combo this blog and briefly discuss some of the gear I typically ride in. I kept it simple and didn’t include touring gear, winter gear, or rainwear. Again, just a light rundown.
My first stop was the state capitol building. Love it or hate it (I’m a teacher in Oklahoma....but I’ll keep a lid on that for now), it’s a pretty neat place to snap a few shots, especially on a clear day like Sunday.
Another shot from further back. The capitol is undergoing some renovations (yes...I know), so the view straight ahead isn’t great right now. I’m certainly no professional photographer, but by simply adjusting the angles a bit, it’s still possible to get a neat shot, as in the first up-close photo.
Next stop was the Overholser Mansion, just north of downtown. Built in 1903, it is considered to be the first mansion in Oklahoma City. They offer tours but I’ve not partaken yet. I’d be interested though.
After a short ride through midtown, I arrived in the up-and-coming Plaza District. The Plaza is a hotspot in OKC lately, featuring fun and eclectic restaurants, bars, and shops. It attracts a wide variety of folks, from funky to family, especially depending on the day and time you visit. There a couple of murals in the area that make nice backdrops. I like this one because of the playfulness and legibility.
A short scoot down Classen Boulevard landed me at the Myriad Gardens with the massive Devon Tower guarding from above. Again, a limited amount of creativity and angle can produce a fun picture. I’ve taken some down here with my car as well. As a bonus - you can always stroll around the Myriad Gardens while you’re here. As long as there isn’t a Thunder game, finding parking usually isn’t too tough.
I used the Gardens to take a few pics of my riding gear.
There is a school of thought called ATGATT, meaning ‘All the Gear, All the Time.’ By definition, I’m not a pure disciple as I occasionally ride in jeans, or without a jacket, gloves, etc., especially in hot weather. I always ride in a helmet though, and I’d say 95% of the time, I’m in full gear. Part of the allure of motorcycling is its inherent danger. It's just a part of the activity.
‘Proper’ gear, or no gear at all, doesn’t close the gap for:
A. Poor riding skill
B. Poor decisions by the rider
C. Inattentiveness of other drivers or the rider
D. Any combination of the above
In short, riding safely and smartly is the best piece of gear one can own.
Enough of that.
Pictured above is my jacket. It’s made by BMW Motorrad. Though a bit pricey, I got it on sale as it was a ‘last-year’ model (several years ago of course). I like the high-visibility yellow because it’s exactly that; high-visibility. The sleeves and chest have mesh panels so it’s tolerable in hot weather. It also has a zip-in liner that works well in cool weather. I also have a grey Olympus jacket that I wear occasionally, especially if I’m running quick errands or riding to a more social type of event. Both jackets are highly abrasion resistant and feature armored shoulders, elbows, and forearms.
Above are my pants, also offered by BMW. I believe they’re called ‘City-2’ pants, though they may be the original ‘City’ pants. I can’t remember exactly and, frankly, it doesn’t really matter. Again, they’re abrasion resistant and feature armor in the hips, knees, and shins. One big reason I went with the bmw system is that the jacket and pants zip together at the rear of the waist. This is very handy in cooler weather, as the airflow down the rider’s back can often lift the tail of the jacket, creating a very cold updraft. The zipper eliminates this situation.
My gloves are a very basic pair of Bilt mesh gloves. If it’s cool, I wear a pair of liners (in my case, Mountain Hardwear hiking gloves) underneath. These gloves are armored along the knuckles as you can see.
Bilt motorcycle boots. Nothing super fancy here, just some standard motorcycle-specific boots. The toe and shin are armored. They're comfortable enough to wear all day and walk around a decent amount.
I currently have a Shoei Neotec modular helmet. This helmet was a complete game-changer for me! It’s very comfortable, quiet, and vents quite well. It’s rare to get any sort of fog on the inside of the visor. It’s also equipped with a Scala G9x Bluetooth system. This pairs with my iPhone, allowing me to listen to music comfortably. I can also have a phone conversation while riding at speed without issue. I don’t do that often, but it is quite handy, especially on a long trip. There’s also an FM radio in the unit.
Another great feature is the drop-down visor. No need to cram sunglasses into the helmet or squint in the sunshine.
Lastly, this helmet is modular, meaning the front opens up. This is great when fueling up, paying tolls, etc. Occasionally I’ll putter through a town with the helmet opened up, but I don’t generally ride that way.
Back to the bike.
My next stop was the Skydance Bridge across I-40. The access was partially blocked, so I took that to mean partially open, and rode up. Since no one was around I puttered up the sidewalk to get a cool photo. Obviously I would not have done so if there’d been anyone nearby.
The bridge lights up at night and is really neat to drive underneath. Daytime is cool as well with downtown in the background.
Last stop was Wheeler Park, home of the Wheeler Ferris Wheel. I’ve not had a chance to ride the wheel yet but I hope to this spring when it reopens.
One of the newest and popular photo ops in the city is the OKC sign here as well. The wheel, sign, and downtown buildings make a fun picture. This shot is beginning to really become a popular one!
I hope you had a chance to be outside during our fabulous weather! If you're around the metro, check out a few of these spots for some fun and easy photos...and if you're on a motorcycle....keep the shiny side up!
I hope this blog finds you enjoying some down time from the day to day. As more of our lives become 24-hour based, it seems increasingly difficult to actually stop for a minute. Christmas seems to hold on the strongest to that mindset, at least to me. There are still businesses that actually close.
I like that.
Today started with me sleeping in until 8:30!! My dad took a picture....perhaps to blackmail me later...or possibly to attempt to show that their dog (the little guy in front) actually has a sliver of kindness in his soul (false). Either way...I slept in and it ruled. My dog Megan (black lab by the window) slept in as well. She never left the bed overnight which is a rarity.
Breakfast was fruit and pancakes. Also ruled. Then we celebrated and shared gifts.
Meg got two cans of wet food from Santa Claus. She was pretty pumped. I’m hoping she’ll share.
After cleaning up wrapping paper and the accompanying acroutrent that follows gift exchanging....I promptly laid down on the rug by the heater....for about two hours...with the dogs. I don’t think I ever fell asleep, but it was relaxing nonetheless.
Finally, eventually, I convinced myself to climb up off the floor....and go run. I desperately needed it.
I was fortunate to grow up in a house with woods, creeks, and quick access to an excellent city park. Wintersmith Park is a true gem and I’m always glad to visit when I’m in town with my folks.
I enjoyed a chilly run around the park. I opted to run the road to boost the mileage. Plus, I ran out north of the park a ways, then doubled back...also to increase the mileage a bit. I wanted to at least get a 5k in today, and was able to with the northern extension.
Wintersmith Lodge and the big Christmas tree. Wintersmith has a lot of structures built by the CCC using local rocks. It’s a pretty historic area.
Just doing some running...and sightseeing.
The decorations were up and include a giant list for Santa. It didn’t specify naughty or nice...so in the spirit of the season, I’ll go with nice. My name wasn’t up there though. Bummer. Maybe next year?!?!?
Ducks and geese in the lake...the locals.
Approaching the finish line!
Done! I cooled down for a minute, then ducked back into the coziness. Warmth, water, shower, and an awesome late lunch soon followed.
A few little stats. So glad I got out today! I hope you did as well!
Thanks for reading, and Merry Christmas friends!
I did it again. Colorado demanded my return and I gladly obliged.
Friday, November 17th - 3:30pm - I pointed the Tacoma west, plugged in the iPod, and put the hammer down. I needed out of the Central Time Zone asap.
Sunset over western Oklahoma.
I landed in Raton, NM on Friday night. I went inside my Airbnb (use it!) and upon exiting to get my bag, was greeted by a herd of deer right out the door! We had a good chat before they moved along. All told, there were eight lounging around....and eating people's yards.
Breakfast Saturday was at the busiest Denny's on planet earth. Also...it was seemingly the only place open in Raton that morning.
I just stopped here on my last trip, but I couldn’t resist another brake check.
Some early views of the snow-capped Rockies. I had gotten off of I-25 by now (yay!) and was headed toward Salida.
Highway 50 into Salida runs right next the beautiful Arkansas River. There were so many places I wanted to pull off, but if I had, I’d have never made it to town!
Lunchtime in Salida meant a stop at Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub. The last time I was in Salida (2015) I wanted to eat here but they were closed. I figured I’d better make up for lost time.
Pizza requires beer. Monlight’s IPA hit right where it should. Yum!
The view from downtown Salida does not disappoint.
I had to make a quick stop at Absolute Bikes for nostalgia’s sake. The Tour Divide mountain bike race goes from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Dive and passes through Salida. I’d seen this shop years ago in the Ride the Divide documentary (highly recommended!) and wanted to pop in. Again I was a good boy and kept my billfold tucked tightly...though it was no easy feat.
Mt. Antero - 14,275 feet
Playing in the snow along Highway 24, south of Leadville. Awesome views and cool air were quick to lure me off the road for a short delay.
(The cool air didn't mix well with my Toyota plastic....not long after these shots....I went He-Man on my passenger door handle. Rest in peace gentle soul.)
Leadville, CO - highest incorporated city in the United States.
A storm rolled through a day or two before my arrival, so the roads were slushy and slick. It definitely felt like Colorado....and I liked it.
Of course, a stop at Periodic Brewery was necessary!
I played the tourist role and got snow all in my shoes walking in from my truck. Thankfully Leadville isn't exactly a bustling metropolis...so no one saw.
The local fare. The beer was well-crafted and really hit the spot! It was an hour well spent.
Cruising Highway 91 north out of Leadville towards Interstate 70. The plows were out working and I used my 4-wheel drive intermittently. The views were outstanding!
Entering the Eisenhower Tunnel - eastbound Interstate 70 towards Denver. Traffic was definitely heavy but manageable. We never really slowed down too much...it was just busy. I made it to my cousin's house in Lakewood about 5:30pm. We had one of my favorite meals...pizza and beer (yep...had it for lunch too; nope...didn't care), then enjoyed some family conversation around their pot-bellied wood stove. A great end to a great day.
Sunday morning I jumped on the road early and scooted north to check out Fort Collins and the surrounding area. A steep drive on the west side of town shot me up to the edge of Horsetooth Reservoir. Even though the lake was down, the views were spectacular and the weather matched suit.
Met a dude there who looked like me.
Now....it was time.
So much beer to be had inside.
Yes...I'm aware theres a kiddo in the shot. I'm pretty sure she's not mine.
New Belgium Brewing was very family friendly with a large courtyard, games, etc.
This was an imperial frambozen with cocoa and one of the absolute best beers I've ever had. I took it on the tour and just sipped for what seemed like forever. YUM-EEE
Still working on the frambozen....but not too classy to double-fist the free sample! That was a sour and was the jam. Those massive barrels are foeders (fooders) and are used for aging and fermenting beer. Some were very old and I believe there were over 50 in total! I tried to swim in one but they made me get out.
Our guide was one of the original employees....her husband is the brewmaster....and they're the only actual Belgians in the company. Her heavy Belgian accent really made the tour special. Highly recommended!
Sadly, I did make one crucial mistake. New Belgium has an awesome spiral slide that takes employees (and visitors on tours) down to the first floor. Unfortunately (but obviously a wise move) you aren't allowed to take glass down. I was still working my frambozen and NO ONE was prying it from my clutches....so I opted for the stairs with the intent of walking back up for a trip down the slide. Once down....I got distracted...by all the beer....and remembered as I later drove away. So, the lesson here, is that I have to return to New Belgium sooner rather than later.
After a couple of hours roaming around the brewery...the witching hour had arrived:
It was time to go to Boulder.
I settled in quickly to my Airbnb (saving cash means more fun food and beer!) and headed down to Pearl Steet on the hunt for cool stuff to do...and to find some grub.
Just before I walked inside for dinner....this magnificent moment in time materialized above my head. It was breathtaking. I always ogle over sunsets here in Oklahoma....but this one sure gave a run for the money.
Dinner was at Leaf, a farm-to-table vegetarian restaurant that served a wide variety of entrees in an upscale but approachable setting. The waitstaff were knowledgable and friendly as well. What you see is fried trumpet mushrooms, house-made barbecue sauce, a bean salad with a fun name that I can't quite recall (Jumpin' Jack or something of that nature??), and some mac-and-cheese that made me question my true purpose in life. Soooo good!
And then....the scarlet letter.
Avery Brewing did not disappoint! I was there later in the evening so no guided tour for me. However, Avery has some cool elevated catwalks above their operation that let patrons wander freely and get some great views of the brewing equipment.
One of Avery's sour offerings. Obviously it was good because I forgot to snap a photo until it was almost gone!
Late-night beer calls for late-night pizza at Cosmo's. One slice is larger than my hand...and even larger than the plate. Spicy ranch and a water chaser rounded out the evening.
Monday morning meant bike time in Boulder. I geared up and rolled out to find breakfast. Snooze easily caught my attention and drew me in.
Soyrizo (vegetarian soy chorizo), wheat toast, a hockey puck of hash browns, scrambled eggs, and a dollop of apricot jelly set me up for a day in the saddle.
Boulder Creek Trail....over Boulder Creek.
Headed uphill towards....you guessed it....Boulder Canyon.
An upstream shot in the canyon. I could have sat here all day...but I had ground to cover!
Once I rode back into town, I made my way through campus. I doubt I could have graduated had I attended CU. I would have never been in class!
Then I headed back out towards Chautauqua Park at the base of the Flatirons. The ride up through the neighborhood was steep but absolutely worth the effort.
I rode up this street. Downtown Boulder is way down in the valley. It was a lot steeper than the photo allows. Consequently....I made SUPERB time getting back into town.
Headed back to the apartment. It was so refreshing to use the extensive bike lanes throughout Boulder. Truly a bike-friendly city!
Breakfast was still holding strong, so I opted for a light lunch at Rush Bowls. They do yogurt bowls, smoothies, etc. I was really impressed!
I went for the "PB&J" bowl. Combined with the fantastic weather and outdoor seating, it was a tough lunch to beat.
I took advice from my cousin Chris and opted for Highway 93 south out of Boulder, through Golden, and ultimately into Denver. This was a western view from a pullout. The wind was blowing about 160 miles per hour, though you'd never suspect it from the photo. All I could do was laugh!
My last Colorado trip in September brought me to Denver Beer Company. I couldn't resist another lap at this cool brewery. Tasty brews and tasty atmosphere.
Yes....I'd love another.
Just a shot of downtown Denver as I headed back to my cousin's place in Lakewood. The skyline under the clouds was quite pretty.
Dinner was at home with family and conversation. We had another great evening of conversation and laughter before hitting the hay early. I needed to be on the road and Chris had to work so we said our goodbyes in the evening and prepared to return to our respective realities. Such is life.
Tuesday morning sunrise over eastern Colorado.
I was up early and on the road about 5:15am. Interstate 70 through Kansas was the prescription for the return trip to Oklahoma City as I needed to make some decent time. Not my first choice....but the beautiful sunrise was certainly a silver lining!
If you cut loose and head towards the Rockies, I'd love to hear about your trip! Or if you'd like any beta on my wanderings, please feel free to inquire! I love talking travel.
Thanks for the read! Now bundle up and go outside.